Food & wine

Halibut baked in red wine

Succulent fish fillets in a tangy red wine and vinegar sauce that may surprise but which is deliciously piquant. A glass of fruity red is a fine match.



  • 4 thick, boneless halibut steaks, about 180g each (tuna is a good substitute)
  • 4 tablespoons cooking olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • a plump clove or garlic, roughly chopped
  • a bay leaf
  • a small bunch of fresh dill, washed and dried
  • 400ml fruity red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 200ml fish stock
  • A scant tablespoon of cooking balsamic vinegar (ie not the very treacly kind)


  1. Bring two tablespoons of the oil to a sizzle in a saucepan and add the chopped onion. Fry gently until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so. Don't let it burn.
  3. Now pour in the red wine along with the bay-leaf and some sprigs of dill or rosemary. Let it come the boil and simmer until it has reduced by half.
  4. Add the fish stock and reduce again until reduced by half. Add the vinegar and boil hard for just a few minutes. Taste and season. It should be quite rich and sweet, but nicely piquant.
  5. Strain into a small jug - you should have about 175ml - and set aside. You can do this well in advance.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
  7. Pour the remaining oil into a non-stick ovenproof frying pan with a lid. Season the fish and add to the pan, seasoning-side down, then season again. Put the pan on a medium, heat and bring to a gentle sizzle to brown the underside of the fish.
  8. Carefully turn the fish over and give it just a minute on the other side. Add the prepared red wine sauce. Bring the pan up to a rolling bubble, baste the fish with the sauce, pop on the lid and transfer to the oven. Set a timer for ten minutes, but check after eight. Tuna may need the full ten or if it's very thick, a couple of minutes more,
  9. While the fish is cooking, have your chosen accompaniments ready to roll on four warmed plates, ready for the fish to sit on.
  10. This sounds blindingly obvious, but do remember to put on an oven glove before grasping the handle of the pan to remove it from the oven. Transfer it to the hob. Very carefully lift the fish from the pan with a large spatula and transfer to the plates. Yes, it may break up. Yes, it will taste divine.
  11. On a medium heat, give the pan juices a final bubble. They should be nicely syrupy. Drizzle them sparingly over the fish and serve.

Wine Matches

Fish with red wine? Absolutely! When served like this it is a pairing that works wonderfully well. Look for fruity reds like Italian nero d’Avola, primitivo, or barbera, Spanish garnacha, bobal or mencia, or consider The Society’s Portuguese Red, or reds from the Algarve and Alentejo. Fruity rosé wines from all three countries will refresh too.

Steve Farrow

The Society's Wine Information Editor

Steve Farrow

Having spent several years in The Showroom, Steve likes nothing more than chatting with members about food and wine and is our in-house Wine Without Fuss food and wine man.

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